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heathrow london, they found four and a half kilos of explosive. she never knew she was carrying the explosives. >> all right, thank you so much, former security for el al. thank you for joining us tonight. >> thank you so much. and that is all from us tonight on j.k., usa. "in the arena" starts right now. good evening, welcome to the program, i'm eliot spitzer. breaking news tonight. treasury secretary tim geithner could soon be leaving the white house. reports are that he may walk out the door as soon as the debt ceiling crisis is resolved, if that ever happens. while he hasn't made a final decision yet, it continues a pattern of key economic advisers leaving at a time of distress d turmoil in the economy and at a time when the debate about the direction of our economic policy is going to be at the very center of the presidential election. members of the white house team have been walking out the door for months. here are the names of recent departures.
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take a look at this crowded field as they depart. austan goolsbee, chair of the council of economic advisers. christine romer who head the job before goolsby had it, peter orszag, larry summers and jared bernstein, chief economic adviser to the vice president. if it looks to you like a picture of canhaos in a time of crisis are that's how it looks to me as well. in a moment i'll be talking to chief white house correspondent jessica yellin and cnn analyst jeff toobin will also weigh in. fist here's a look at the other stories i'm drilling down on tonight. talking to terrorists. america is reaching out to the muslim brotherhood. does that mean they're not terrorists anymore? is egypt headed for -- and a distinguished american writer with a pulitzer prize. just one catch. he's not an american. jose antonio vargas doesn't even
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have a green card. america at its best or its worst. then, seven seconds. >> we're in the seven-second delay today? >> in television if you say something wrong, a seven-second delay can save you. >> i thought he was kind of a [ bleep ] yesterday. >> not this time. and then there were none from obama's original team of economic advisers. only treasury secretary tim geithner remained and word has just come in that geithner is weighing leaving office after the debt ceiling crisis is resolved. he talked about it today at the clinton global initiative in chicago. >> i live for this work. it's the only thing i've ever done. i believe in it. i'm going to be doing it for the foreseeable future. people are interested because, you know, i have a family and my son is going back to new york to finish high school and i'm going to be commuting for a while. i'm going to be doing this for the foreseeable future.
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>> that's what the treasury secretary may have said out in public today. certainly not from what we are hearing from inside the white house. what will this mean for economic policy? joining me chief white house correspondent jessica yellin and jeffrey toobin here in new york. jessica, let me start with you. why now, of all of the moments to add one more name to the list of departures, this seems absolutely horrific for the president. >> well, frankly, eliot, the reason why now is because i think it leaked. i think that the treasury secretary, we all know, as wanted to go for some time. has indicated repeatedly that he'd be willing to. the white house has wanted him to stay. and this could be a good window for him to go after a debt ceiling. multiple officials familiar with the discussions have said that he did indicate that. one person -- and so then it got out. one person familiar with those conversations said to me that, quote, this is an idea more than a plan.
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and i do not get the sense that this is something that's at all cooked. there is not somebody lined up to take the job. there is not a clear plan for a senate to confirm somebody next. that's a big question. they clearly can't have an opening in the treasury secretary's post right now. so it would leave the white house and the administration in a lurch if he were to, you know, really plan an exit without a clear succession plan. but treasury secretary geithner is clearly exhausted. >> but that is exactly why it stee seems to me so odd. it sounds like what people are expecting out of this white house when it comes to economics these days, so maybe it's just par for the course. jeff, does it strike you as just kind of bad politics, bad timing? what's your take on this? >> i don't think anyone in the world cares much who's the treasury secretary. people care that the economy is not recovering, and he is the leading representative of it other than the president
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himself. things were getting better in may. they stopped getting better. this is a problem in substance, and it's a problem politically. shuffling around the boxes doesn't matter, but the lack of a sense that anything is getting better or there's a plan to get things better is a big, big problem. >> jeff, there's absolutely no question you're right and it's a critical observation. people care about the economy, not whose name is in the box, treasury secretary, council of economic advisers. but to the extent the public is looking at the white house and saying you're rudderless. there seems to be a shortage of ideas, there seems to be internal debate about what to do next and now this debate between the president and the republicans, this doesn't help. >> the discussion in washington seems to be entirely about the deficit. that's not the big problem in this country. the big problem is jobs and economic growth, and all this discussion about what government programs are we going to cut. the republicans are completely controlling the debate. and the president isn't even
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saying what matters is jobs and economic growth, not deciding how many fbi agents you're going to fire. >> jeff, i'm with you 1,000%. i'll put your name up for treasury secretary. we need somebody who gets that. >> don't hold your breath. >> we won't hold our breath on that. jessica, another thing i think at a political level does cause a problem for the president is that if there then is or isn't going to be a discussion about who fills the slot, it opens the entire arena up for the debate about the philosophy of what the president should be doing within his own party. that seems like a big risk. >> absolutely. and then you have the problem does he appoint a businessperson who has all sorts of personal conflicts and what they're invested in, which creates problems with his progressive base, but is very helpful to the business community, or does he get a progressive idea log who presents all other kinds of problems. while secretary geithner is considered enormously loyal and deeply well liked by the
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president, it's no question that he is challenged when it comes to his presentation in public. he is not a great public speaker. >> that was very deftally stated. >> did you just see that clip we just ran talking about his departure? has there ever been a less impressive performance? i mean he's just not good, and frankly that's part of the job. >> jessica, i was glad to hear you say he was tired because that clearly came through. the guy is smart. i've had huge differences with him over the years, but he's tired and i think that came through in that performance. jessica, have you heard rumors -- first of all, i've got to go back. you just said specific idealogue. >> i don't mean to insult anybody. >> have you heard any names floated yet? is the rumor mill kicking in to say who's going to get what is arguably the second or third most important position in our government? >> no, not yet, it's too soon. one person joked to me. i said why do you think this is
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leaking right now. one person joked to solicit job applicants. >> let me throw out a name and i don't know where it was uttered that it had already been floated. erskine bowles, a co-chair of the commission, bowles-simpson, does that name make sense to anybody? jeff, what do you think? >> well, if you believe the job of the current administration is to cut entitlements, which is generally that commission was supposed to do, then it makes sense. but if the democrats intend on winning in 2012, i don't see why associating themselves with the single least popular idea, cutting medicare and social security, is a good thing. so sure, he's a competent, honorable person, but he's associated with an idea that seems to me a substantive and political loser. >> that's why i say the hardest or worst thing for the white house is it opens up the whole political or ideological debate. jessica, has anybody at the white house come back to you saying it's absolutely not true,
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we're denying it and pushing back on the story? >> no, no one was walked it back. the most i've gotten is be clear this is an idea, not a plan, there is nothing imminent. >> once again the distinction between idea and plan, the meta physical distinctions only washington can care about. that means it must be true. jessica, jeff, thanks for joining me. just when we need everyone in washington working together, what do we get? a food fight. a look at the ugly mood that's threatening to turn even uglier when we come back. oh common. and how can you talk to me about fiber while you are eating a candy bar? you enjoy that. i am. [ male announcer ] fiber beyond recognition. fiber one. took some crazy risks as a kid. but i was still over the edge with my cholesterol. anyone with high cholesterol may be at increased risk of heart attack. diet and exercise weren't enough for me. i stopped kidding myself. i've been eating healthier, exercising more, and now i'm also taking lipitor. if you've been kidding yourself about high cholesterol...stop.
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especially rampant. if this were a school yard spat, you could say president obama started it when he fired this shot at republicans. >> they're in one week, they're out one week. and then they're saying obama has got to step in. you need to be here. i've been here. i've been doing afghanistan and bin laden and the greek crisis. you stay here. let's get it done. >> well, today everyone piled on, republican john cornyn lashed out at the president on the senate floor. >> this is a grand opportunity for democrats and republicans to come together to do the nation's business. to be serious, not to be reckless, not to give demogagic speeches like the president gave
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yesterday. absolutely disgraceful, he should be ashamed. >> and democratic senator chuck schumer accused republicans of sabotaging the economy. >> all of a sudden it's sort of like a new fever has taken over the other side. that the best way to win is hurt the country as much as you can and that will create political benefit, and it's just -- it's sad. obviously all of us inside here are just yep set by it. >> meanwhile, we're just a month away from a potentially devastating economic breakdown. my next guest, congressman joe walsh, is a strict fiscal conservative and no fan of the obama administration, but does he feel the criticism is turning into something more destructive. congressman walsh, welcome back to the show. >> how are you doing, eliot? >> wonderful, thank you. let's just begin. you came to washington, part of the new breed of members of congress, put ideology aside for a moment. you said you wanted to change the way government operated, sort of the visibility and the sort of public perception of how things got done.
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is this not a new low that we're hitting today? >> again, i don't think this is anything unusual. look, these are serious issues. this is a pretty passionate time. the president believes certain things. america woke up last year and sent republicans to congress because they recoiled at what he believed in. look, i've been pretty blunt in what you think of this president. i think he's in over his head. i think he's in denial. and yesterday he acted like a 10-year-old. now, none of that bothers me because i don't think he's really even part of this debate. this president a few months ago started running for re-election. he hasn't been serious about any of the serious fiscal issues our country is facing. i don't take him very seriously. >> wow, i just want to make sure i heard this. he's a 10-year-old in over his head, hasn't been seriously participating in the debate. you're talking about the president of the united states? >> absolutely. look, eliot, we voted for this
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guy because of who he was. we didn't vote for him based on anything he had done, because he really didn't have much of a resume. we all acknowledge that. i think very few of us voted for him because of anything he said. he was a historic figure. and now i think we're beginning to wake up and realize he doesn't know what he's doing. worse than that, he doesn't like to take any sort of criticism. i'm not talking about you in particular, eliot, but your profession has protected this guy. he's in a cocoon. and the minute somebody pokes him and gets critical with him, look at how huffy he gets. he says where have you been, republicans? here's a guy who's been on 33 fund-raising trips since the beginning of the year, who's been on 17 rounds of golf, and he's talking about where the republicans have been. you may not like what we're doing, but the republicans have put forth a budget. 800 days now and the senate hasn't done anything and this
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president has been awol. >> i hate to interrupt, but just because we do, as you know, you've been on the show a bunch and we have limited time, but i just have got to observe this. first, do you think senator cornyn's critique, do you buy into that critique of the president? >> oh, i said -- eliot, i said three months ago the president ought to be ashamed of himself when he put forth a budget in february that didn't have anything in it. >> let me ask you this. i hate to interrupt. but he has put forth a set of proposal that say cut $10 trillion over the next years. paul ryan has put forth a plan that i disagree with, but he claims it would cut $5 trillion. i don't think it does. but they're not that far apart. so you're talking about serious ideological differences here but well founded and thoughtful opinions. so why does it need to become such an issue of personal
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vendetta? the president, as you just acknowledged, is a very smart, thoughtful guy. >> well, i don't know, eliot, that's you saying that. look, if he's putting forth thoughtful proposals, why does he mention a corporate tax break for private jet owners six times last night. now, you can debate the pros and cons of a tax break for private jet owners, but you can't debate the fact that that will cut $3 billion over the next ten years. that's not even -- that's totally insignificant to the crisis this country is facing. why did he mention it six times? >> i'll tell you why. at one level i agree with you, at another level i disagree. i agree with you numerically and i made the same point on the show last night. that is insignificant in the grand scheme of the budget gaps we're talking about. but he used it and i think fairly as representative of the
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fact that the republicans, your party, don't want to do any of the loophole closures, and he used this as an example of one that he thought was easy, that most people would say, yes, there is a sensible set of them. he was using it as being emblematic of the larger point. yes, we could always pick apart the rhetorical points that are made but i think at a deeper level he is trying to build a consensus very much in the middle around this issue, isn't he? >> eliot, you're doing a much better job making his case than he did. look, it was insignificant. he mentioned it six times. if he had the courage of his convictions, why doesn't he stand up yesterday and say i'm going to raise taxes on the wealthy. i'm going to raise rates. look, i think the reason he was so petulant yesterday and he did act like a 10-year-old is because this debate passed him guy. the american people passed him by. they know we borrow money every
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hour that we can't afford. our deficit is going up $28 billion next month. >> congressman, can i give you the answer? i think i'll give you the answer to why he didn't talk about raising marginal rates for the wealthy. he does want to do that. he wants to repeal what we call traditionally the bush tax cuts. he has made that very clear over and over again and he has said he wants to do it when they expire at the end of 2012. the reason he isn't raising that issue now is because he's trying to forge the compromise that can be put in place before august 2nd, so he's only putting on the table those particular pieces that are in play. he knows that's not going to happen. he was actually, i think, trying to operate within the bounds of reasonableness and fair play. >> eliot, let me ask you a question. >> sure. >> objectively. what did you think of his press conference yesterday? >> i thought it showed increasing frustration. i have not been in that place precisely, of course, but having been a governor, knowing what it's like to deal with
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legislators, let me tell you executives basically don't like legislators, you've learned that. there's a sense that you guys are always running for cover and buck stops at the executive's desk. so i think a little of that anxiety and frustration was getting there. i don't think it was out of bounds. everybody has got to calm down a little bit. >> look, it doesn't -- it doesn't bother me. but what i think it does is it wakes the american people up. this is a president, whether you want to admit it or not, has been protected by your profession. and that's got to stop. everything he says now matters. and when he plays politics with issues, like they are, you've got to call him on it. look, you may not like what republicans are putting out there, but we are acknowledging this country is a spending crisis and we want to do something about it. >> let me be real clear. i've been very hard on this president over a whole slew of issues, as have so many people in not only the news media, but the cable news media and there's obviously fox that's very critical, so i don't think he's
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been protected by anybody. i think that right now what we're seeing is a genuine ideological divide that has not been bridged. there's a fundamental debate about how to close this serious budget gap that everybody acknowledges is there, although some of us also thinks the job crisis -- >> no, they don't. >> sure. >> go ahead. i just think he -- go ahead. >> i want to give you the last word. >> no. and i respect your opinion, eliot. i just think he's in denial. the democrats are in denial. if they weren't in denial, they wouldn't have waited 800 days and we haven't seen a budget. they have got to get serious. >> all right, congressman joe walsh, as always, thanks for joining us. look forward to having you back. >> thank you. coming up, seems like no one has a good word to say about the president, but one word in particular got a tv political analyst in a ton of hot water. can someone say civility? of at&t and t-mobile would deliver our next generation mobile broadband experience to 55 million more americans,
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now it's time for "under
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fire." earlier we pointed out the dismayingly rancid known washington. well, it's getting just as bad in journalism, perhaps no surprise there. earlier today on msnbc's show "morning joe" political analyst mark halperin crossed the line when he called the line when he called the president of the united states a vulgar word and he was quickly suspended. but did he jump, or was he pushed? take a look at this. >> mark halperin. what was the president's strategy? we're coming up on a deadline, and the president decided to please his base, push back against the republicans. i guess the question is, because woe all know a deal has to be done, is this short of showmanship? a lot of times you go out there, both sides, and they act tough, so their base will be appeased and then they quietly work the deal behind the scenes. >> are we on the seven-second delay today? >> oh, lordy. >> i want to characterize how i thought the president behaved. >> how do you think he behaved.
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>> well, we have it. we can use it, right, alex? yeah, go for it. >> yeah, let's see what happens. >> alex, you have the button. >> you fall down, they catch you. >> and the president has been said on this show. >> i thought he was kind of a [ bleep ] yesterday. >> oh, my god. delay that. delay that. what are you doing? >> i think the president -- >> i can't believe -- i was joking. don't do that. did we delay that? >> i hit it. i hope it worked. >> well, my mom is watching. so we'll know whether that worked or not. >> joining me now, founder of mediaite and abc media news legal news dan abrams. what was that? was he kind of encouraged? and why? >> sure, he's being encouraged. the bottom line is when you go on that show, you want to try and be as provocative and as interesting as possible. but when you call the president of the united states that word, you're going to get yourself into trouble. i mean i think that, sure, they're encouraging him.
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if you want to analyze point by point what happened, you could say, well, they were egging him on, et cetera. the bottom line is halprin is a big boy. >> i'm not justifying it, but it does strike me -- first i want to ask this question. was it the word that was so objectionable. it's not one of the seven famous words that you can't say on tv or was it the fact that that word was used with respect to to the presidency of the united states. >> if he had called joe scar broe that word, i don't think it would have been that big a deal. i think if he said to joe, hey, joe, you're being, this, i think he would have been okay. i think when you refer to the president of the united states in that -- in that manner, no matter who the president is, you're going to get yourself into big trouble. >> do you agree with that? >> yeah, i do. >> look, i would never say that. but i'm also a little troubled, perhaps, by the fact that we are now so hesitant, if he really believed that -- >> but he can use another word. >> i agree, i would never do it. >> but he can say the president, you know, did a horrible job. he can say -- he could use the
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word that was the last name of a congressman that just resigned if he wanted to use that word. >> that's clever. i hope there's a delay here. >> you know, there's another way to say it without specifically because words matter. look, when you're on television, when you're on a news network, like msnbc or cnn, what you say matters. the words matter. and so when you pick a word like that to talk about any president of the united states, you're going to get yourself into trouble, and particularly these days. why? because these days i think many of the cable news networks have to behave like political campaigns. >> what do you mean by that? >> they have to come out and say immediately we apologized, suspension has taken place. it's as if a campaign operative says something in a campaign that was inappropriate and immediately the campaign has to say this was inappropriate, this person's conduct is not being accepted, we're suspending this person from the campaign, because the truth is that all of these cable news networks in
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particular are very concerned about being pegged in a particular way, and i think that they're -- >> look, i agree with you. both your premise, words matter. in fact deval patrick who gave a beautiful speech and president obama gave a speech thereafter with that same premise. the words you use, how you characterize the adjectives frame the debate. this is one more example -- >> is not about civility. it's about using a word to describe the president of the united states on television. >> but part of the reason we want to be careful about that is the lack of civility has led to a coarseness in our discourse. >> but that's not why he's getting suspended that's why you're troubled by it. >> why do you think he's suspended. >> because he used a word you can't use to describe the president. >> because it displays a tenor that we deem inappropriate and not desirable. >> no. because we are using a word, not because it's beyond -- you're so intellectual about it. oh, it's about the civil
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discourse. we've descended into -- i mean the bottom line is he used a word that we all know you shouldn't be saying on tv. think about it. i hosted a live show for six plus years, all right. every time i'd say something that i kind of regretted right after i said it, immediately i would say, you know what, i probably shouldn't have said it that way. i would never have used that word. but even on smaller things, i would immediately know i said something i probably should immediately tell the audience, i didn't mean it that way when you're doing live tv. that word, he had, what, 30 seconds to think about it. you have the seven-second delay on. okay. what do you guys think, should we do it. >> are you suggesting then this was almost a setup and reason is the ratings they desire to be edgy? all that, you get right up to the edge but don't want to cross it? >> but i think from his perspective, i think he's trying to be provocative. and that's what makes for good analysts. i'm trying to be provocative with you. >> yeah, you're doing okay. >> this makes for entertaining
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television. >> you have been an executive in the tv world. would you have suspended him immediately? >> yeah, yeah. the white house we also now know reached out to msnbc immediately and said how dismayed they were about this word. i don't think that matters. the bottom line is that they have to take action. >> right. >> he got burned. i mean i feel bad for him a little bit, meaning the way joe and mika are egging him in. >> it wasn't quite entrapment but the tv equivalent. we've got to jump, but he -- here's what i say. i was trying to push you a little bit, i was trying to be provocative. but i also think it's still a distraction. we've got bigger issues and that's what we should be focusing on. dan abrams as always, thank you for being with us. coming up, he's an award-winning journalist who wrote about undocumented immigrants, but he buried the lead. his all-american story when we come back. why don't we have both? [ male announcer ] old el paso. hard and soft tacos.
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my next guest is a distinguished journalist, part of a team that won a pulitzer prize for the "washington post. " his credentials include producing an acclaimed documentary. full disclosure, i know of him because my daughter worked for him at the huffington post. and there's one more thing you should know about jose antonio vargas, he's an illegal immigrant. last week vargas wrote a shocking article "the new york times" magazine laying out his own amazing story for the first time. he joins me now from washington, d.c. welcome. >> hi. thanks a lot for having me. >> our pleasure. you came here at the age of 12. >> yes. >> at the age of 16 you found out you're here illegally. for 14 years you have lived a lie. when was it that you felt i just can't continue to do this? >> i think last year, you know. in many ways last year was kind of the height of my career. i've been a journalist since i was 17 years old. all i've ever done is like tell
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stories. and this was a story, my own story that i was always too afraid to tell. and at the end of the day, i'm just one of, you know, millions of people who are living kind of this secret life. the only difference, of course, is i've been writing. i've been reporting all these years. >> i want to actually go back through the chronology a little bit. >> yeah. >> you were sent here when you were 12. you did not make a choice -- >> no. >> -- to come to the united states, you were sent. describe that. >> basically i was 12 years old at the time. i just woke up and my suitcase was waiting and my mom put me on a plane from the philippines to send me to my grandparents in mountain view, where silicon valley is in california. i thought everything was fine. it wasn't until i was 16 when i went to the dmv to get a driver's permit that the woman at the dmv looked at my green card, flipped it around and said, you know, this is fake. don't come back here again. that was really the first time. i was 16 years old, that i found out i was undocumented. >> what was that moment of
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realization like? did you feel anger or did you feel frustration, did you feel despair, did you say i've got to go home? that must have been a shattering moment. >> i think i was rather kind of traumatized by it. you know, no one wants to live with a lie. no one does. but at the end of the day i knew that i loved this country. i grew up here. you know, this is my home. and i wanted to be an american. and i just thought to myself maybe -- how about i work hard enough and i try to earn what being an american means. and really that's what -- that's what this is about. >> but then for the next 14 years essentially in order to earn, your word, your presence here and what you hope to accomplish, you have needed and on a regular basis filled out forms falsely. >> yes. >> in a way not to be too blunt about it would be illegal. you have filled out false
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documentation over and over to get a driver's license, even to get into the white house. how does that make you feel? >> again, this is why i decided to come forward and this is why i decided, you know, to form a campaign called define which is all about truth telling. i think the best way to solve a problem is to tell the truth about it. and to the extent that i did it in the article, kind of coming forward about what i had to do. whatever it is that i had to do, millions of other people are having to live that kind of life because we have an incredibly broken and irrational immigration system no one has been able to fix. and the only kind of -- the only thing that kept me going all these years have been american citizens. my high school principal, high school superintendent, a senior manager at the "washington post" who i told very earlier on who decided that they were going to take risks for me as well and they wanted me to continue living and working here. >> you have, and this comes
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through in the article which is an amazing piece of writing. >> thank you. >> you clearly have benefited from the largesse, the support of an incredible array of people. as you say from your high school principal up to the chairman of the "washington post" company, very prominent people. did any one of them ever look at you and say, jose, i'm helping you but what you did was wrong? >> i have apologized to everyone. and i've said that i'm sorry. i'm sorry that i had to break our country's laws. but you know since the founding of this country, sometimes laws are broken and we need to fix them. and this is what, you know, our campaign define american is about and this is what coming forward is about. i am very sorry. i take responsibility. i take full responsibility for what i did. but i wanted to expose in detail exactly how broken the system is. i was forced to be in this situation. as you noted, i was 12 when i got here. i was 16 when i found out. what was i supposed to do? all these other kids right now
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in classrooms across this country, what are they supposed to do? >> there is no question we are a nation of immigrants. we are a nation of people who have come here because of the desire, just as you have, to accomplish. >> yes. >> but no nation can define itself without also erecting a border and a barrier and saying we define who can come here. so are you saying -- how far does your argument go? don't we need to be able to do that and enforce those loss and also keep people out? >> of course. people have made the argument that this is -- that the border has been the safest it's been and that we've guarded the border. now the question becomes, all right, well, can we get on the table and say these are the compromises, this is what we've done and now here is a concrete way for the 11 million undocumented people already in the country, already contributing, a path, a concrete path to being legal, to living kind of a full, legal, public life. i think that's the question now. >> how about the equity issue that can be made and fairly
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made, i think. you went to college. >> yeah. >> you received assistance and have certainly done extraordinarily well by hard work and what you learned. but you took the place of somebody else who might otherwise have been in that college seat. how should we talk to that person? >> i completely see your point. you know, every step along the way, whether or not it was going to college or when islanded internship at the "washington post." i called my principal. she was my question first phone call. and i said am i taking somebody else's spot? and she said to me, don't be crazy. you're there for a reason. you earned it. you're playing fair. >> just to close the loop on the legal implications, i gather you have not heard since the article came out from authorities. nobody is knocking at your door saying, gee, thank you for that powerful article, now we're going to deport you? >> no, i haven't. but when i made up my mind to do this, i knew what the consequences could be. and i have to be prepared for anything and everything.
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so, again, i did this not only for me, i'm doing this because, again, this is an issue that we haven't come fully -- come fully out with. we haven't had an actual conversation about this issue and that's what i wanted to do. >> jose antonio vargas, thank you for joining us today. >> thank you so much for having me. i appreciate it. absolutely fascinating interview. i've got to say it's a complicated issue, raises all sorts of equity issues. he is one successful stupendous writer, thoughtful guy who's trying to do what he thinks is best. i congratulate him. up next, one said if you want to want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends, you talk to your enemies. well, america is talking to the muslim brotherhood. does that mean peace or appeasement? x too easily? time to deploy the chex mix boring potato chip decoy bag. now no one will want to steal the deliciousness. with a variety of tastes and textures, only chex mix
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arab spring grind into a long violent summer, some countries are engulfed in revolution. others are trying to pick up the pieces left behind by corrupt regimes. but who will emerge from the rubble? in egypt, the u.s. is dealing with a sobering reality, the chance for democracy in tahrir square may lead to a more powerful muslim brotherhood. today secretary of state hillary clinton confirmed the u.s. is in talks with the muslim brotherhood, despite its ties to hamas. joining me now are michael shoyer and phil mudd. phil, let me begin and, michael, let me ask you this question. is the muslim brotherhood a terrorist organization? should we be talking to them? and should we be talking to any organization that we deem to be a terrorist group? >> well, terrorism, of course, is in the eye of the beholder here. the brotherhood hasn't conducted any operations in recent years,
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though it is fully capable of doing so. i think what we really see here is mrs. clinton and the white house realizing that what they saw in tahrir square had very little contact points with what's coming in reality. there's not going to be a democracy in egypt. there's going to be some kind of a power-sharing arrangement between the muslim brotherhood and the army and other groups. but the one thing i think that's very important here is the muslim brotherhood is a very powerful organization across north africa and into the levant. and sooner or later, they're going to establish governments that we don't like any more than we liked mubarak. and i don't know where america goes then, because we've made it very clear that we intend to teach them how to vote and how to treat women and how to run elections. so i think the big surprise of the muslim spring is there wasn't one. >> look, i don't want to get into that debate, it's a little
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larger as an issue than i want to try to deal with right now. phil, let me come back to you. we certainly want to encourage democracy. democracy sometimes produces results we don't like, such as hamas in the gaza strip. in the case of egypt right now, the muslim brotherhood is participating in a democratic process. they have a background that ties them to many terrorist organizations. in your view should we be talking to them? do we have any choice? >> absolutely i think we should talk to them for a couple of reasons. first you have a counterterrorism reach. muslim brotherhood and al qaeda hate each other. as al qaeda goes on the decline, this is an opportunity to support a political group that i think will continue to deflate al qaeda. this is a public disagreement between them, nothing secret, so i think there's a narrow opportunity here with the brotherhood to take some wind out of the sails of al qaeda. more broadly, i think you have to look at a little history and say, look, we spoke to people like the filipino dictator years ago, marcos. we talked to the shah of iran, we talked to mubarak.
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now we have people who support at least now the democratic process. what are we supposed to say? recent reports show we're in conversations with the taliban who will never win an election in afghanistan but we can't talk to the muslim brotherhood? i'm not sure we have much choice. >> michael, let me come back to you on that point because i think the taliban situation where it has been articulated clearly by the u.s. government that we want to enter into negotiation with them, there's a report in the financial times today that details the number of meetings we have been having with them. there is a case where there is no democratic process but we are still negotiating with a terrorist organization. do you think that is wise policy or should we simply have an absolute rule we won't deal with organizations that we deem to be terrorists? >> no, i don't think we should have a hard and fast rule on anything, really. i think you have to take the world as it comes. we're talking to the taliban because the president and the republicans have decided to surrender there, and we're looking for a way out without getting embarrassed. the taliban will control that. so i don't -- you know, i think
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that's just another signal of our defeat in afghanistan. as far as the brotherhood goes, you know, we can talk to them all we want, but mrs. clinton laid out very clearly what she wanted from them in terms of their behavior politically and socially. and none of that is going to happen. they are also not going to forget that for 40 years or more we supported mubarak who spent most of his time carving up, persecuting, imprisoning and torturing the muslim brotherhood. so we have a long way to go before we get much traction with any of these groups but ignoring them is not the answer. >> so both of you are saying pragmatism rather than an absolute rule needs to govern. that we have no choice but to talk to the muslim brotherhood, who are participating in a democratic process. and in fact you've said the taliban similarly we don't have a whole lot of choice there either. so what has happened to the grand principle that terrorists are to be should knowed, isolated, pushed back into the corner of international diplomacy where they sort of shrivel up and die on their own?
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phil, have we given up on that larger theoretical point? >> no, i don't think so. if you look at the just announced white house strategy on counterterrorism, there's continued focus on people who kill americans. people like al qaeda. the muslim brotherhood has teen divides with al qaeda. in fact al qaeda, some of its leadership came out of egypt and they disagree openly with the brotherhood. so we're not talking about talking to terrorists here, we're talking about a political process that's going to include islamists. let me add one more point here. we in this country look overseas and think that other people believe the same things we do, including about the democratic process. this is not correct. for example, we believe in the separation of church and state. you look across the islamic world, polling data will show you the vast majority of muslims in countries like egypt, i believe the figure is 90% for egypt, believe that religion should play a major role in government. so it's not just a narrow pragmatic perspective we have. there's an idealistic perspective as well. it has to do with american
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values. when people win elections, after we've spoken to autocrats, should we not speak to people who win elections? i think we should. >> michael, do you think the mere fact they win an election should be a sufficient basis for our beginning a negotiation with them? israel is not negotiating. i think properly with hamas. hamas won an election. the legitimacy of the election is open to doubt, perhaps, but hamas won that election in gaza. should israel continue to refuse to negotiate with hamas? >> israel should do whatever it needs to do to defend itself as far as i'm concerned, but i don't think we need to be supporting the israelis in anything. certainly if we cared about what the israelis thought or about their security, we would not have stabbed mubarak in the back and brought him down, because whatever happens in egypt now, the government that takes the place of mubarak is going to be a very anti-israeli. and i think the one thing about the brotherhood, what the brotherhood is not in this for democracy or for anything else at the end of the day but power.
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that's what they're after. and if it takes some democratic talk and it takes a little peacefulness at the initial stages, then that's what they'll do. but at the end of the day, they want to be the government of egypt. and that has to be the american, i think, optic here. we're going to have to deal with an islamist government in egypt that's going to be decidedly unfriendly to the israelis, very reluctant to take advice from the americans, and if we pull our aid, the saudis will step in. the saudis probably have already stepped in with the brotherhood. >> michael, i hate to cut you off but time grows short. the only thing i would add to that is i think there certainly is a school of thought that agrees entirely with you about the muslim brotherhood. there's another school that says they have changed fundamentally. only time will tell. michael, phil, thanks for being here. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you. coming up, a senator who's had it with the ugly words being thrown around in washington. i'll ask him if there's a way to stop the name calling and get back to business before the economy tanks.
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more now on our top story, temper tantrums on capitol hill. as the country careens toward potential economic disaster, folks in washington are hard at work, taking swipes at each other. meanwhile, the clock is ticking on that debt ceiling deadline. a short time ago i spoke with a sensible voice, republican senator rob portman, about the toxic tone and whether there is any hope for consensus on a debt
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plan before it's too late. >> senator, thank you for joining us this evening. >> you bet. thanks for having me on, eliot. >> it is so clear that the rhetorical heat in washington has hit new levels, and i just want you to listen for a moment. you probably already heard what your colleague, senator cornyn, of texas said about the president's performance yesterday at his press conference. take a listen. >> this is a grand opportunity for democrats and republicans to come together to do the nation's business. to be serious, not to be reckless, not to give demagogic speeches like the president gave yesterday as part of his re-election campaign. absolutely disgraceful. he should be ashamed. i respect the office of president of the united states, but i think the president has diminished that office and himself by giving the kind of campaign speeches that he gave yesterday.
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>> look, senator, i certainly don't want to suggest the rhetoric has been coming from one side only, but i guess the first question i've got to ask, tough language from senator cornyn. do you think he fairly characterized and do you think his adjectives are correct? >> well, i think the president made a big mistake because there is a big shift in his tone yesterday. that speech, eliot, which you haven't played, basically said i'm the adult, congress is the children and specifically, you know, used some examples that were pretty populist and demagoguing is maybe a little strong but not too long. what it said to me unfortunately is that the president has now moved from trying to find a deal, you're an executive, you know how that works. publicly you make statements to try to bring people together. to more of a political attack. unfortunately, looking as though he's pointing the finger rather than trying to get to yes and we can't afford that. we've got to figure out a way to get through this. >> there's no question i think most of our viewers have seen
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enough of the president's speech and certainly the outtakes that you're referring to. his language was edgy, it was hard, it was harsh even. certainly fair to observe. but do you think it is fair to say what senator cornyn said, that it was disgraceful or demagogic? those are uniquely harsh words to use to describe the president's speech. >> i would describe it as unhelpful. it was not helpful to reaching the result we all know we have to reach, which is to reduce spending before we extend the debt limit. >> there are some within the republican party who are discounting the importance of august 2nd. who are saying you know what, that boundary, that date can come and go. we'll pay the interest, we won't pay other bills. are you squarely in the camp of those who accept the notion that this really is a firm deadline and we must get a resolution by that date? >> well, it's a moving date, as you know, because it depends what the revenues are and what the outlays are. treasury has acknowledged that on friday they're going to adjust the date again. i suspect from the data that i've seen, el

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